Fragment of Generative Code for Neighborhoods


Everything arises from the wholeness of the land and what is there

Originally written for neighborhoods of the Eishin Campus, Japan, 1983

The most fundamental way to treat the land-- whether it is an open field, or an existing village, or a street in a town -- is to respect what is there, protect it, continue it, make it better. Heal it, make it more whole.

The great towns and villages have always been built this way, and it is this process which gave them their beauty. It takes skill. It requires a loving attention to what is there.

What is the "it" that is being preserved and extended, during these kinds of actions? It is the configuration of the whole. In every place there are deep seeds of structure running in the place, in its geometry, its colors, its smells and sounds. It lies in the hills of the land, in the stands of trees and hedges; in the gullies; in the outcrops of rock.

In an existing town, too, the "it" that has to be preserved is the deep structure, the seeds of loveliness that are present there, and these seeds of loveliness are in the wholeness. It is this wholeness, the larger, deeper structure which matters most. Although it is in the wholeness, it may nevertheless be caused by small details. A corner store, with two tables on the sidewalk that forms a corner, and also in turn forms a larger center in the neighborhood. This is an example of what must be preserved, protected, and extended. You cannot extend it by making it larger - -but by honoring it and respecting it. It means making sure that the larger structure which ripples out from these two tables is extended and strengthened by whatever other things are built in the nearby areas. .

In order to do this, we need to walk around the place many times, with others, and alone, asking ourselves which place has the natural magnetism to pull us to go there, which makes us want to stay there, which has the power (potentially) to give us life merely from being there.

On a green field site, where a neighborhood does not exist, this feeling will most likely be generated by a view, by the form of the land which has a natural protected area, a declivity, or by a high spot which looks out. Great trees, are also capable of giving us such a place, naturally occurring water, the edge of a forest, the bottom of a cliff. It is impossible to predict with any general principles, what feature of a particular piece of land will have this character. Each piece of land is different, and will tell you, in its own way, what unique feature, on that land, is best suited to become the spiritual center of a future neighborhood built there.

The way to achieve this is to spend time, gazing on the land, at the place where the building is to be, or at the space itself, as a place and as a beautiful entity in itself. Ask yourself -- standing there, and closing your eyes -- how high it is, what line will enhance the place, where you would most expect to find the front edge of the building, if it is a peaceful and gentle place.

It will not be out of place, either, to ask childish things, of your inner eye. What color is it? When you close your eyes, what color do you see? What kind of windows does it have? When you close your eyes, what shape are the windows, what figure gives them inspiration, and makes the place worth being in?


  • Walk the site alone, and with your colleagues.
  • Notice all the places and features which are giving it its character, and its uniqueness.
  • If possible make a gesture drawing which somehow captures the structure of the wholeness.
  • Discussion with your colleagues will help to cement the wholeness in your minds, since no one drawing of structure ever captures the wholeness fully.
  • Be prepared later, when you come to Diagnosis, to record these features of the whole, so that you can then act to protect this wholeness, reinforce it and extend it.

    Above all, work to make sure that whatever you do there next, must leave the beauty of what is there now, intact.

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